If I were to have an addiction, it would be wandering in museums. My eyes spin when walking on the Mall in Washington, D.C. Natural History? The Freer Gallery? National Museum of American Indian? National Gallery? And, we have not even ventured up to 8th street yet! The obvious problem with these mega-museums (as well as those other museums in this league in other major cities) is that I could be happily lost for 2 weeks in each, following my Constitutional right to the pursuit of happiness, but my bifocals, back, and brain are good for about an hour at a time. Fortunately, we can travel into D.C. at will and Linda enjoys museums, nearly as much as I. Our first meeting included a conversation about an exhibit on John Marin paintings. One of our first dates was to MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) in NYC. Maybe she was just flirting.
On the other hand, many locations have small museums which one can digest in reasonable time. I think of the Frick Collection in NYC and the Sloane House in London. If you are visiting Rhode Island, we found a couple of gems. These are located in “South County”, which you cannot really find on a map because it is more a reference to various villages “south” of some undisclosed feature in the state. Maybe the line is that point at which 30 minutes in any direction will take you to a state which you really do not need to go to.
We happened upon The Museum of Primitive Art and Culture by complete circumstance. A “free” copy of the South Kingston paper arrived while we were on vacation in RI. I saw a notice for a free lecture (the day we left) at this museum. Emily had never heard of it, though she knew the village, Peace Dale, where it was located across from the library.
Peace Dale is a cross roads which most of the traffic is trying to get through. We have done this several times before, not noticing the small plaque directing you to the 2nd floor for this museum. The Museum of Primitive Art and Culture is housed in one room with about six tall cases containing “stuff” which several local collectors gathered from various communities, which they defined as “primitive”. You can see examples of arrow heads, pottery, baskets, wood items, a birch bark canoe and walrus skin kayak in about a hour’s time. Delightful. I was a bit put off initially by the use of “primitive” to describe cultures whom we deem less sophisticated that we, but after reading the notes about the collectors, realized that this terminology came from an era about a hundred years ago when they picked these things up. Maybe some day my nephews will build a niche museum of The Art and Culture of the Hermit, displaying all our curios for baffled travelers.
Head out on Rt 138 past URI (University of RI), and you will eventually find a sign of Peter Pots Pottery. The bridge is out currently, so follow the redirected arrows for the back way there, which actually seemed more direct than the usual route, but maybe that adds to the magic of this studio. I think Tolkien wrote the Hobbit here.
The showroom stands next to a bubbling cascade stream. Linda & Emily had talked about this fabulous pottery for years, but did not take me there until last winter. I was so overwhelmed with the quality of the stoneware, etc. that I ended up buying a “not antique” (Peter’s description) set of fire tools instead. They look great regardless of authenticity. As I could not make a decision of what pottery to purchase, Linda bought a water pitcher. This time I knew what to expect, so we could purchase a set of bowls.
Better than the pottery itself is talking with Peter. Don’t worry about conversation, he can keep it up, should he decide to talk. He can range from giving the chemical composition of the the clay they use, to the design elements of their product lines, to demonstrating how sturdy the items are (he dropped a coffee mug on the ground then stood on it, to illustrate it’s strength). You could probably see the “stuff” here in 15 minutes, but you best allot an hour or so for the entertainment.